Equality in Participation for Women and Men a Priority for Oceania Rugby and UN Women

Date: Monday, August 14, 2017

[Joint press release]

Nadi, Fiji — Oceania Rugby’s commitment to increasing the participation and leadership of women and girls in rugby across the Pacific has been reinforced by a new partnership with UN Women.

Oceania Rugby has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with UN Women, which is the global champion for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.

(From left) Tihrani Uluinakauvadra, Oceania Rugby Get into Rugby Coordinator; Kolianita Alfred, UN Women Monitoring, Evaluation and Knowledge Management Coordinator, Ending Violence Against Women; Avi'i Fa’alupega, Samoa Rugby Union Women’s Development Officer; and Shalom Senara, Samoa Rugby Union Development Manager. Photo: UN Women/Caitlin Clifford

Oceania Rugby President Richard Sapias explained that often the perception in Pacific societies is that rugby is a sport for men, so to partner with UN Women to change these incorrect ‘social norms’ is a fantastic opportunity to support the many women and girls in rugby.

“Oceania Rugby, World Rugby and UN Women have a shared interest in making opportunities for girls and women to participate in all parts of community life. We want to work together to make sure rugby creates opportunities for girls and women to get the same benefits from being players, coaches, officials and managers as everyone else.”

World Rugby - Rugby Services Manager Oceania, Bruce Cook noted, “the work being done and the investment by Oceania Rugby and World Rugby into the growth of women’s rugby in the region is really gaining momentum. This is reflected in the highly significant number of girls and women currently participating in the Get into Rugby programs, as well as an increase in interest in off-field activities and administration. This partnership will reinforce and strengthen this endeavour.”

Research by the University of the South Pacific undertaken in 2016 indicated that partnerships with community organisations, diverse opportunities for entry level participation, supportive coaches and encouragement from peers all contribute to more girls and women taking up the game.

In announcing the new partnership, Aleta Miller, UN Women’s Representative for the Fiji Multi-Country Office (MCO) that works across 14 Pacific Island countries, said: “we are excited to work with Oceania Rugby to help lower the barriers to participation in rugby for girls and women.”

“We are privileged to have the opportunity to work alongside Oceania Rugby to promote mutual respect and access for both women and men to participate more equally in this sport that’s so loved by communities across the Pacific,” said Miller. 

“Our organisations share a mutual commitment to use our mandates and influence to work together on key messages and activities that promote gender equality and challenge social norms through sport,” Miller said.

The announcement was made at the opening of the Oceania Rugby’s Superweek Event in Nadi, Fiji that comprises 10 days of workshops, rugby training camps, sector meetings, celebrations and rugby events.

Media Contacts:

Sarah Walker
Oceania Rugby, Ph: +61 418 678 548
Email: sarah.walker@oceaniarugby.com

Jacqui Berrell
Communications and Media Specialist
UN Women MCO Fiji, Ph: +679 330 1178 ext 125
Email: jacqui.berrell@unwomen.org

BACKGROUND

Oceania Rugby: Oceania Rugby is a regional body of World Rugby with 16-member unions. The Member Unions of Oceania Rugby are: American Samoa, Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, New Caledonia, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tahiti, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. Wallis & Futuna are Associate Members. The Oceania Rugby Superweek is jointly funded by Oceania Rugby, World Rugby, Australian Rugby Union through DFAT’s Pacific Sports Partnership Program and Olympic Solidarity.

UN Women Multi-Country Office (MCO) in Fiji: The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) was created at the July 2010 United Nations General Assembly. A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide. The UN Women Multi-Country Office (MCO) based in Fiji, covers 14 Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs): Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. The Fiji MCO works to progress gender equality and women’s empowerment in the Pacific through four key programmes: Women’s Economic Empowerment; Ending Violence Against Women; Women’s Political Empowerment, Leadership an